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This questionnaire survey set out to determine the perceptions of family doctors in north Staffordshire regarding their role in the prevention and treatment of childhood accidents. Of 277 doctors sent questionnaires, 207 (75%) replied. Only 23% of respondents considered that they did enough child accident prevention work; lack of time was mentioned as a limiting factor by 66%. Child health surveillance clinics and home visits were considered by 60% and 59% of respondents, respectively, to be appropriate occasions on which to give prevention advice. However, only 12% of respondents frequently gave safety advice while visiting a child. Significantly more older general practitioners (over 44 years) gave advice during a visit than younger doctors. Among doctors with a health visitor who was practice rather than geographically based significantly more gave advice on a home visit and discussed safety issues with their health visitors. Significantly more general practitioners in practices more than five miles from the nearest accident and emergency department offered to provide treatment for children following an accident than those in practices nearer to a hospital. Child accident prevention has recently been targeted as an important area for health promotion in primary care. However, this district based survey has identified a relatively low profile for the subject in the everyday activities of the general practitioner. The need for further research to determine the precise role of the family doctor in the prevention and treatment of children's accidents is highlighted.